Who: Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) and the UK government
Where: United Kingdom
When: 23 September 2022
Law stated as at: 6 October 2022
The DCMS committee has published the government’s response to its report on influencer culture. While the government has accepted several of the premises for DCMS’ recommendations, it has confirmed that it does not intend to commission a market review.
The DCMS report, which was published in May 2022, highlighted several regulatory gaps and made several recommendations for the government, including: undertaking a review of the influencer ecosystem, setting up an influencer marketing code of conduct and working better to protect child influencers.
Notable responses by the government include the following:
- The government does not intend to commission a market review into the influencer ecosystem and its challenges at this stage. However, this position will be kept under review.
- The government does not agree that proposed amendments to the Online Safety Bill (to require online platforms to tailor complaints mechanisms for different types of harm) are necessary. The government’s position is that the Online Safety Bill already imposes a statutory duty on in-scope services to take “appropriate” action in relation to the relevant complaint. The government therefore expects that service providers will consider the nuances of different types of harm and the appropriateness of their action in response to the complaints they receive.
- The government will work with relevant industry bodies to identify which stakeholders are best positioned to provide input into a new code of conduct for influencers or, where appropriate, adapt existing codes.
- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be given greater enforcement powers, under measures proposed in the draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill.
- The government is considering responses to the consultation on the Online Advertising Programme, to address the DCMS committee’s concerns at lack of transparency around advertising in influencer posts. This will also include consideration of the Committee’s recommendation that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) be given statutory powers to enforce the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing Code.
- The government appreciates that there is a regulatory gap when it comes to protecting child influencers to ensure they have suitable work conditions, and the Department for Education is open to exploring what legislative options may provide children with greater protection.
Why this matters:
In its response, the government has welcomed the publication of the DCMS committee’s report and recognised the rise of influencer culture. However, the government has also failed to accept a number of the recommendations made by the DCMS committee.
Despite the lack of concrete actions in the government’s reply, the ASA and CMA are continuing to focus activity on issues arising from the growth of influencer culture. It is likely, therefore, that there will continue to be pressure for legislative change in this area.
Advertisers using influencers should therefore continue to ensure that influencers are aware of and comply with the existing applicable rules.